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  • Discrimination fears over genetic mapping

    Author: AAP

Qld's health minister says legislation should be updated in light of advances in genetic mapping technology to protect against potential discrimination.

BRISBANE, AAP - New laws should be drafted to protect Queenslanders from discrimination if genetic mapping reveals they are susceptible to major health issues, the health minister says.

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Lawrence Springborg says advances in genome sequencing may provide a crystal ball into whether people and their families are at risk of disease or disorders.

While this has the potential to save lives, it could also "open Pandora's box" about whether insurers might refuse coverage to anyone forced to disclose genetic imperfections, he says.

"Once you actually start to disclose it then opens you up to the possibility of having your insurances altered or being considered against that particular backdrop," he told Fairfax radio on Wednesday.


"We're in a bit of a legal no-man's land at the moment ... we've got certain things under anti-discrimination legislation that does not extend broadly enough to provide this particular protection."

Mr Springborg says new laws should give those who undergo genetic testing the ability to choose whether they are told about any unexpected findings, and clearly set out what they must reveal to insurers.

"Generally once we get into genomics we will open a Pandora's box because we can know virtually everything about everyone and if we're not very careful about putting this in place then we can expose the community," he said.

"We need a legislative framework that allows us to get the best out of genomics ... (one) that gives people the protection and the confidence that they can use this for advantage and they are not going to be negatively impacted by being discriminated against as a consequence of what may be found."

Copyright AAP 2014


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